Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the Speed of Imagination (J–B O–D (Organizational Development)) Paperback – 12 Mar 2001
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"This is a book about the future of organization development. It is a practical guide to Appreciative Inquiry for organization leaders and organization development professionals and it is a comprehensive explanation at the speed of imagination." ––Peter Sorenson, professor and director of the Ph.D. program in organization development and master of science program in management and organization behavior, Benedictine University
"This book is a gift to organization development practitioners. It takes us forward both professionally and personally. It challenges us to shift our perspectives, and deepens our understanding of organizations as organic systems. The book provides practical guidance––and encouragement––to creating sustainable change in large complex systems. Jane Watkins and Bernard Mohr are generous in sharing their wisdom and experience. In doing so they place on us tremendous responsibility for the fate of change efforts through our choice of approach to inquiry."––Cynthia Haddock, senior change advisor, The World Bank Group
Appreciative Inquiry----a book in The Practicing Organization Development Series----is for leaders and organizational consultants who are ready to abandon the familiar tyranny of complex change programs. Recognizing that human systems are constructions of the human imagination and therefore capable of change at the speed of imagination, the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) process frees organizations from the restrictive orthodoxy of "deficit based change" and allows them the freedom to mobilize strategic change and focus on the visible and tacit strengths of an organization. AI is capable of engaging whole systems at amazing scales----easily engaging hundreds or sometimes thousands of people, often in a matter of weeks or days, to leverage the positive core of the organization. Tap into the rich and inspiring "high point" accounts of personal or collective capacity and link this "positive core" to any change agenda. Once you have have determined what is really working, transformations never thought possible are rapidly and democratically mobilized. "This is a book about the future of organization development.It is a practical guide to appreciative inquiry for organization leaders and organization development professionals and it is a comprehensive explanation at the speed of imagination." ----Peter Sorensen, professor and director of the Ph.D. program in organization development and master of science program in management and organization behavior, Benedictine University See all Product description
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It is clear that you have to be sophisticated to do AI interventions. One imagines that you should belong to an AI network, be thoroughly trained, and be supervised. The AI intervention probably does not work without the requisite OD/HR training and perspective. If you are interested, this is your textbook.
I found the book moderately difficult to read and digest, partly because the authors have created such an elaborate theory behind the intervention. The authors are less than candid about "failed" interventions (p. 206), and terms like "co-creating" and "sociotechnical" (what?). I came away from this book believing that AI is something like Public Discourse applied to businesses.
If you want to use this book, plan on studying it in detail and enrolling in AI workshops.
As an organization consultant I am interested in three things when learning about and considering adopting an approach or methodology: what are it's theoretical basis, fundamental assumptions and beliefs, basic process, and application to different types of organizational situations. Watkins and Mohr have written a book that offers all three. The opening two chapters ground Appreciative Inquiry in the history of the OD theory and method and clearly explain the core principles and generic processes of AI. The subsequent chapters each focus on one of the five generic processes plus evaluation. Each chapter explains one process in detail, illustrating it with two case examples. The combination of grounded theory and practice facilitates understanding, imagining, and applying. The examples are drawn from different consultants, types of organizations, and focuses of interventions, all of which support a rich understanding of the potential of this approach.
My one wish is that chapter 8, "Finding Innovative Ways to Create the Preferred Future" be expanded. I wanted to read more about an appreciative approach to the Destiny Phase, the most complex part of any change process.
Watkins and Mohr are generous with their knowledge and experience, offering the experienced practitioner enough to begin working from an AI perspective.
This book plus the more academic, Appreciative Inquiry: Rethinking Human Organization Toward a Positive Theory of Change, edited by David L. Cooperrider, Jr. Sorensen Peter F., Diana Whitney, and Therese F.Yaeger, are an excellent package for understanding Appreciative Inquiry: how it developed, its current practice, and directions for future development.